Halloween On Hulu 2016 : “The Redwood Massacre”

Posted: October 16, 2016 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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I know, I know — I was thinking it, too, but 2014’s The Redwood Massacre isn’t set in northern California. In fact, hard is it may be for American audiences (including myself) to believe, writer/director David Keith’s low-budget splatterfest is basically the closest thing we’re ever likely to see to a Scottish version of Friday The 13th. And since I know that description is going to require at least a bit more explanation, here we go —

Local legend has is that the so-called Redwood House was scene to a bloody massacre years ago, and so, kids being kids, every year on the anniversary of the slaughter, tons of them head out to the wooded area around “ground zero” to camp, drink, smoke pot, screw, and generally act like assholes. And whaddya know, all five of our principal players here — Bruce (played by Mark Wood), Pamela (Lisa Cameron), Kirsty (Lisa Livingstone), Jessica (Rebecca Wilkie), and Mark (Adam Coutts) — are, in fact, major league assholes and right from jump you’ll be looking forward to them getting killed. Which is a pretty solid statistical probability given that, this year, there is an axe-and-machete- wielding maniac out to wreck the ghoulish good time all these annoying twenty-somethings are having by proving that the apparently-nameless (at least I don’t remember them bothering to give him one, which is a huge oversight on Keith’s part) Redwood killer is very much alive, well, and angry.

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Now, for my money, it’s always good when a slasher flick features at least one or two annoying pricks and/or bitches that deserve to meet bloody ends, but populating your entire cast with unlikable, self-centered bastards is a dubious proposition, at best, and makes for a less-than-fully-satisfying viewing experience. It would be nice if Keith gave us at least one person to root for, but apparently the thought never occurred to him, and so what we have here is a film that is, more by accident than design, perfectly set up to be one where we could really get behind the killer. Sadly, though, he’s basically an empty cipher in an admittedly cool mask that has none of the — for lack of a better word — personality of a Michael, Freddy, Jason, or Leatherface. He’s violent as shit, to be sure — characters are dispatched in uniformly creative and increasingly OTT ways — but it’s all presented in such a straightforward, lifeless, and crucially humorless manner that you can’t really develop much of an emotional connection to the bad guy, either. The film’s lower-than-low budget necessitates that most of the practical effects (and props for that, by the way) can’t be effectively realized, either, and while that’s given rise to some truly creative blood and viscera in the past, there’s no one with the sheer ability of a Tom Savini or a Greg Nicotero or a John Carl Buechler or a Dick Smith working on this movie, and so what we’re left with is best described as a cut-rate version of one of the Hatchet flicks that takes itself way too fucking seriously and looks cheap, to boot.

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All of which is a real shame because there are some absolutely terrific locations that go to waste here. We’re talking environs — both interior and exterior — that by all rights should be good and scary, and certainly convey all the proper atmospherics and then some, but are somehow stripped of all their potential value by dint of sheer cinematic ineptitude. Its painfully obvious that Keith still has a hell of a lot to learn about his craft, and unfortunately for viewers of The Redwood Massacre, we’re stuck watching him trying — and failing — his on-the-job training course. Maybe he’ll get better as time goes by — frankly it’s hard to imagine him doing any worse — but damn, good luck finding financing for your next project when this one is so relentlessly lackluster.

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Still, it’s not all bad news, and I would be remiss not to point out that —

Oh, wait, it is. Honestly, I can be reasonably entertained by even the most mediocre slasher, but the simple, unvarnished, ugly truth is that The Redwood Massacre really does have absolutely nothing going for it. Like everything else I’m reviewing this month it’s available for streaming on Hulu, but I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time on it — unless you’re an aspiring young director looking for an object lesson on how not to do things.

 

Comments
  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Victor De Leon says:

    ergh. sounds so bad…

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